Chapter 21 | Planning for Jobs


Economic development efforts in communities in the United States typically focus on bringing “economic base” jobs to the community – jobs that produce goods or services that are sold outside the community, so that they will help to bring new money into the community. This chapter discusses the role of planning and planners in economic development.

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  1. What are some of the economic-base industries in your community? Check with the chamber of commerce or economic development agency for a list of the largest employers. Are they all economic-base employers? The local school system may be on that list. Is it part of the economic base?
  2. Find out what three employers in your community have most recently added one hundred or more employees or have built new plants with one hundred or more employees. What types of industries are they? Are these economic-base industries?
  3. Get out your copy of the community’s comprehensive plan. What locations are planned for future industry? Drive (or bicycle) by some of these locations. Do they appear to have good rail access? Highway access? Do they look like good locations for heavy-manufacturing, light-assembly, or service industries? Is there a good variety of land available? Is the land that is available suitable for the types of industry that you identified in response to exercise number 2?
  4. Find out if your community has an economic development plan. Get a copy of it. Does it seem like a workable plan? An exciting plan? Is it generally consistent with the comprehensive plan? Does it address any issues of sustainability?

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the general nature of the economic base in your community now? Is it in heavy industry, agriculture, service industry, or something else?
  2. What kinds of industries should your community target for economic development? Why? What is there about your community that should make it attractive to those industries?


Supplemental Resources

Common Search Terms

Use these terms in search engines to find additional examples and other resources:

economic development plan, target[ed] industry study